Rhetoric - The Public Speaking Game
GAME DESIGN, PACKAGING, BRANDING
Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game is an entertaining and educational game for 4 to 8 people. It is designed to help players improve their public speaking skills and have fun in the process.
The experience of working together with Florian Mück and John Zimmer, both public speaking coaches and awesome speakers themselves, turnt out to be a great match on inspiring each other. Their passion for public speaking really influenced me a lot, far beyond this project. And beyond just a project presentation – with this essay – I’d like to share my experience on this topic with you.
When studying graphic design in Berlin I’ve already been sensibilized for what it takes to not only throw yourself into your work and push yourself to get better, but also present your ideas immersively. I believe that ...
Design can really bind people to a brand or product as the right emotions come up.
And that’s probably broad consensus in our industry. But there’s also something that often enough gets seriously undervalued in the process of getting there: Emotionalizing the product owner. Think of all those necessary business decisions that need to be made along the road before a consumer can hold something like a board game in his or her hands for the very first time. Product owners – often our clients, briefing us designers with a certain task – need to be very courageous. They take a lot of risks as they invest in their ideas. And while being convinced a concept really works, doubts and fears tend to disappear. That’s where a good presentation comes into play.
Let me give you one example. In the past I’ve met many talented designers who often present their great work to their clients just via email or a few indifferent words. Fairly simple. Straight forward. What you see is what you get, right? Why should we bother preparing a presentation in person? Of course we should.
Design is all about emotions. A good presentation makes you feel it. See, hear, taste, even smell it, if you wish.
When designers present their work confidently, they make their process reasonable. Decisions on conceptual work or refining details are made more comprehensible. Emotions can get really intense, solutions for complex challenges straight to the point. With all that you’re about to emotionally touch and excite your client for your fantastic piece of work.
I guess I don’t just speak for myself when I say that the best visual gets even better in its own special environment. I think the challenge is not to just sell a design, but make one feel and understand it. Let one not just own their product, let one love it.
WHY A BOARD GAME?
Think of doing a presentation. No matter what topic, where or whom to. Improving presentation skills is mostly about practising it. You learn about talking to an audience first in school, later in business. Situations that often confront you with a bit of pressure. Although that raise of adrenaline is said to increase concentration and performance, often enough being in the spotlight makes you feel anxious or really out of comfort. There is a difference when you do a presentation in front of friends or family. It’s not that much about performance, getting a good grade or convincing someone to make a decision. It’s easier to put it more on what you really wanna say and how you wanna do it. The components where you’ll probably learn the most.
The best games speak for themselves. But how many made you speak?
Florian and John really convinced me. An educational game like Rhetoric adds value to many peoples’ lifes. We thought of coaches presenting themselves, helping others reveal their potentials. We tought of entrepreneurs getting confident about their impact. We thought of teachers in schools, putting things on the right track for their students. Students themselves, being proud of achieving a good presentation. We thought of families, co-workers, politicians, salesmen and ourselves. Every good idea needs a voice to tell it, to make it happen. Getting good in doing so is a clear benefit for everyone.
Florian and John are both deeply connected with public speaking communities such as Toastmasters International or TEDx. There they had the chance to collect feedback concerning their ideas for developing a board game. The day they told me about their idea, the concept has already been presented to and discussed with one of the most critical future target groups: Professional speakers, experts and opinion leaders in communication and leadership development.
At first Florian and John came up with the idea of an ancient greek amphitheatre. Ancient philosophers challenging each other with speeches. This concept was as epic as playful. My first thought was “Yes, we’re talking of a game here. It’s all about having fun” but then again, after a bit of research, I saw that most of the language visualizing that certain atmosphere felt either way too “intellectual” or like “greek holidays” to some extent. This game is about speaking. Making yourself stand up, be heard, inspire people. I thought it deserves a deeper focus on the speech itself.
DESIGNING A GAME
When I asked myself how to visualize a game about public speaking I remembered how I felt when standing in front of people and talking to an audience. All you really want is to focus. What is my message? What do I wanna say? To whom? How should I do it? That’s where you wanna keep it clear and simple and make sure your word will reach your addressed audience. A surrounding that reduces noise can assist you there. Some people close their eyes when trying to focus. They elimate clutter, give their thoughts room by reducing unnecessary visual information. I decided to make the game let you focus. Clear forms, distinct typography, easy language that’s internationally comprehensible. You concentrate on your presentation and the game in front of you won’t distract but help you. The color set transports a dark, silent atmosphere like a stage being lit by contrastive spotlights of catchy colors that provide a distinctive value of brand recognition and guidance for the players. Easy-to-understand iconography making it even faster getting familiar with the game’s rules and rhythms.
Not only the game follows an objective of focus, but also its packaging. The first edition of Rhetoric has had a simple game field out of cardboard which was folded and classically packed into a box. After these first 250 games were all sold out, the Florian and John told me that many of their customers are also coaches using the game as a tool to train their clients. So the old classic board game, we first thought that mainly families were playing, now needed to become a handy tool. I replaced the heavy, stiff game board and its surrounding box by a game mat out of sailcloth material rolled into a transparent plastic roll. By reducing the product’s weight to an half and making it fit easily into one hand Rhetoric now also attracts trainers or agile coaches who can carry it to their meetings and trainings. All used materials are practicable and stay resistent, even after numerous rounds of passionate speaking.
Product design and packaging for the 2nd edition of Rhetoric - The Public Speaking Game™
The game design transports the idea of a dark stage being lit by contrastive spotlights. The use of simple colors, forms and typography and absence of clutter and ornamentation let the players focus on their speeches. The packaging is designed to also attract coaches, trainers and teachers by emphasizing the tool character of the game.
The 1st edition of Rhetoric (250 games) have been shipped all over the globe. The 2nd edition, with 2000 copies, is conquering it right now.
Thanks to my Berlin colleagues at team navarra, Karin Janner from Spieltz for making good ideas happen. And once again, Florian Mück and John Zimmer not only for such a great project but for inspiring me to inspire others.
If you want to challenge your public speaking skills, just head over to Florian and John for a copy of Rhetoric - The Public Speaking Game™